Category Archives: marriage

Looking for patterns

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I knew that pattern felt familiar…

If you were to look in my closet, you’d notice a number of similar items, like these two dresses, for instance.  My tendency to gravitate to a certain style of shoe (chunky Mary Janes, preferably black), boots (knee-high, brown lace-ups) and sweaters (oversize and loosely woven) is easily discernible.  I’ve got a thing for purple dresses, polka dots and wrap dresses, a predilection I’m aware of and actively trying to work on.  “Step away from that darling amethyst ruched dress, Silvia!  You already have one!”

My penchant for familiar designs, patterns and colors is apparent to those beyond me.  On a shopping trip with my middle son, I was discouraged from buying a(nother) pair of cute black shoes because, as he said, I already had a pair just like that at home.  He was right.

What is that attracts us to things we already have?  Is it comfort?  A sense of assurance that that particular style or color or shape “works” for us?  And, more importantly, does this tendency to continuously replicate what we already know extend beyond the boundaries of our closets to our broader existences?  Specifically – what patterns do we have in our personal lives and are they as flattering on us as a draped jersey wrap dress?

I’ve been divorced for a couple of years now, long enough to have gained some perspective about what did and did not work within what was the longest relationship of my life.  While I valued my husband’s comfort with my desire to travel, both with family and solo, I did not appreciate feeling as if my independence was an easy excuse for my having to shoulder (in my eyes) a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for organizing all of our lives.  It became a vicious cycle of trying to yield control and then being disappointed by the poor (as perceived by me) management of the task at hand.  Naturally, I stopped asking for help.  I definitely don’t want this pattern to be replicated in future years.

In a number of my previous romantic relationships, I’ve been inclined to be bossy.  It’s simple –  I like to take charge and make things happen.  You know what, though?  I’m tired of driving the bus all of the time and I am hoping to learn to be comfortable in the passenger seat.  It’s time to allow someone else to take the wheel for a change.  I want to look out the window a little more and not feel as if I always need to focus on what comes next.

I’ve got a pretty good view right now of the garment rack where much of my wardrobe hangs.  I see something pink peeking through the purple dress section.  There’s also a length of madras nearly brushing the hardwood floor with its eagerness to be worn.  If I look closely, I can just barely make out a gorgeous floral print which is almost audible with its promise to show me a wonderful time, if I’ll only take it out on the town for an evening.

Patterns can be broken.

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Filed under aging, Fashion, love, marriage, musings

Choosing happiness

Somehow I’ve come to be perceived as the epitome of the gay divorcée.  I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but I think this article may provide some insight.  You see, I intuitively do many of the things the article suggests.

Life isn’t always easy or joyful or simple.  What I try to remind myself of is this: regardless of how I’m feeling or whether I’m struggling or not, life continues moving forward.  I can’t control that.  What I can try to manage though is how I’m going to approach the challenges with which I am faced and so, I choose happiness.

Being divorced isn’t something I ever imagined being.  It wasn’t really part of the plan, you know?  I’ve learned, however, that some things are intended to be full length works, while others are merely a series of short stories.  I’m okay with chapters, both in literature and in life.  I suppose that would be me embracing items 4, 6 and 10 on that list.

Since my divorce I have been much more creatively active.  I write like a fiend and both my writing and my photos have been publicly shared.  Somehow I’ve turned into a runner and have become more physically fit than I had ever imagined being.   I guess that’s kind of embodying numbers 2 and 7, isn’t it?  Isn’t there something you’ve been wanting to do or try?  What are you waiting for?

Life’s big decisions can be fraught with fear and what ifs, but I guess I’d rather risk failing at something new than stay in a losing situation.  The unknown can certainly be scary, but if you shift your view ever so slightly, scary might just become exhilarating.  Item 5 – check.

My relationship wasn’t necessarily “bad” but the circumstances didn’t allow me to be the best me I could be, which, I suppose, was “bad” for me.  I think that my ex and I both are being good to ourselves during the times we are childless.  That would take care of 1 and 3 on the list, I think.

Numbers 8 and 9 don’t really apply to me.  My definition of success has never really been tied to ambition or financial accomplishments. When it comes time to memorialize me, all I hope for is to be remembered for having had a nice family and a life filled with love and experiences.  I’ve always been moderate about my indulgences and that has not changed.  I try to remain aware of how my body and mind are responding to what I’m ingesting and adjust accordingly.

Choose happiness.  There’s plenty to go around.

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Filed under aging, ideas, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships

Explorations and discoveries

image; s1.cdn.happinessxing.com

In the last few years, my perspective has changed dramatically.  Once upon a time, I believed that all my decisions had been made and the future held only more stagnation.  It was like I was a participant in some organized game with the only object being to “land” on particular spaces in a mostly consistent order. You know, college – travel – meet – marry – have beautiful babies – focus all attention and assets on the growing children – feel alone in the chaos – stay quiet and still.

Once that game ended, I could have easily been cast adrift, but I’m not really a rudderless kind of woman.  Instead, I’ve been discovering parts of myself I didn’t know existed.  Life has changed so much!  I’ve been challenging myself physically and have felt myself being pushed creatively and professionally like never before.  I feel alive every day.

The comforts of yesterday have been knocked off my personal map by new waves of inspiration and excitement and I no longer wake up and wonder what’s on the other side of the ocean. Instead, I look around and see the sky, the sun, the moon, the light, the clouds…all sorts of things which compel me to want to look closer and explore.

I can’t speak for Columbus, but, for me, it is definitely about the journey.

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Filed under aging, holidays, love, marriage, musings

Declaring independence

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For many, Independence Day has come and gone in an orgy of fireworks, sunscreen and  barbecue.  My holiday was decidedly different this year and it has me thinking hard about independence and what it means in my own life and the lives of my friends.  I suspect I’ll be pondering this long after the fuse on the last of the bottle rockets gets lit.

I spent the 4th with some of my oldest friends in the world – people who have been in my life through graduations, weddings, births and, now,  separations and divorces.  We’ve been witnesses and participants in each others lives for so long that it is sometimes difficult to see the individuals as independent entities. We’re connected so deeply through history and shared experiences that when I’m reminded of the fragility of the relationships we have created, it can take my breath away.

When one is lucky enough to have friends such as these, there’s a certain comfort level that is achieved allowing one to, hopefully, truly be themselves. Sometimes, though, the history of us, and who we have been, can distract from who we are becoming as we grow and stretch in new directions. It can be uncomfortable or disconcerting to acknowledge and accept the changes which must come with sustainable long-term relationships, but when the essential goodness of our friends remains intact, their personal declarations of independence do not detract from the friendship we all share.

Our nation is built upon a foundation of basic beliefs including the timeless assertion that we have certain unalienable rights.  Despite the metaphorical fireworks that explode each time a marriage falters or fails, or a friendship buckles from the complications of couples parting or pairing, I will accept nothing less than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for myself. And, as far as my friends are concerned, I want the very same for each of them.

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Filed under aging, friends, holidays, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, Summer

Not shaken or stirred, but blended

Q’s favorite Bond

My 7 y/o is currently obsessed with James Bond.  He gave up Star Wars at about the same time that George Lucas sold the galaxy to Disney.   Coincidental?  Perhaps.  If you offer him something to drink, it is completely plausible that he will request a martini, shaken not stirred.  It’s adorable.  Well, to me it is because I’m his mom.  Someone else might find it obnoxious or cheeky, but I’ve always had a soft spot for 007.  And my children, of course.

Over the recent holidays, I did some reflecting on my own memories of the Christmas season and I thought about a family from my childhood who taught me what a blended family might look like.  There was a mom and a dad and a daughter.  And an ex-husband and the children shared by he and the mom.  And the ex-husband’s son from his second marriage.  And also the son from the Dad’s first marriage.  The kids all referred to each as brother and sister and the relationships seemed pretty relaxed and fluid, kind of like a well mixed martini.  They were Italian-American and Westchester Jewish, a combination which resulted in great food and wonderful traditions. I loved them and everything they taught me about family and love and backgammon, truly.

As a divorced parent*, I might one day find myself in a similar position.  You know, blending children and families and friends with a partner.  I’d like to think  I can do it with as much tasteful grace.  I know that none of those relationships was perfect, I mean what is?, but the central thread of children which wove them all together created an inspiring family fabric, a patchwork quilt that gave at least as much comfort as a familiar cocktail, I imagine.  How about you?  Do you have any experiences like this to share?  Grab yourself a cocktail and share, why don’t you?

*I’m not a “single mom.”  The boys very much have two parents.

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Filed under Boys, family, friends, girlhood, holidays, marriage, musings, relationships

Ghost anniversaries

Are wedding anniversaries like phantom limbs? You know, you can kind of still feel them even though they no longer actually exist. The remains of what was once there can create an almost physical twinge despite the fact that it is no longer present as anything but a memory.

Two couples I know recently marked their 20th anniversaries – one with a lovely dinner al fresco, the other with the decision to acknowledge the end of their marital partnership. I guess these examples support the often quoted figure that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Do you think it is possible to predict at a wedding ceremony which marriages are going to remain intact and which are going to end before death doth them part? I don’t. Personally, I don’t believe anyone plans to not live happily ever after.

I know that love and intentions and hopes and dreams were very much a part of my wedding day. I married on an early afternoon so cloudless that our photographer complained about the lack of shadows. The best man saw a majestic blue heron take off as he drove to the ceremony, an obvious sign of nature’s blessings even to the most jaded. We had a totally cool wedding date – month, date and year expressed with a concise number of digits. Perfect.

However, 18 years from that day, as I ran under a cloudy, darkening sky, I wore the marital status “divorced” rather than that beautiful emerald-cut diamond ring I received when I accepted his proposal. Ugh.

As I ran though, I smiled to myself as I recalled that my groom and I found ourselves alone following our wedding reception’s conclusion, red Ford Escort wagon parked in the lot and strung with cans, without the keys to drive ourselves to the next destination. Really. A phone call or two resolved that roadblock, and we joined our friends at their hotel to shuttle to another location for dancing and drinks. We were not ready for our day to end – we were having far too much fun. We all piled into the hotel’s courtesy bus, but as we began to pull away I realized my groom was being left behind. He missed the bus. Literally.

There were, as I said, no clouds. There are no regrets for having spent nearly twenty years sharing my life with a man who I once was very happy to call my husband. Sometimes, though, anniversaries are to be celebrated as the date when two became one, while other times they are simply reminders of a former life, once whole but, now forever severed.

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Filed under marriage, musings, relationships

The day I got divorced

The sun was shining, but the wind was chilly. I went to the gym and used heavy weights that I knew would leave me sore the next day. I picked up my completed tax returns (married, filed separately) and discovered I might be able do some home projects. I realized that just like the wedding is a minuscule part of the marriage, the divorce finalization is a blip on the Geiger counter of the relationship’s ultimate decay.
It had been a long time coming. No, it wasn’t the transgressions, it was truly the knowing that together we would go no farther. We were done. Not with the children and parenting them, but with each other. I was more exhausted than sad, shaking my head with bemusement, wondering why it was so easy to remember when the love started, not so easy (all right, impossible) to recall when it began to fade. Like childbirth, you simply forgot.
Being successfully married (insert your definition here) is always described as being “hard work,” and you know I don’t mind working hard. It’s just that I ended up finding other things which I invested my time and effort in to provide better returns. I’m a romantic, but I’m also brutally practical. I wasn’t getting enough and I couldn’t give more. Period.
The word divorce comes from the Latin “divert, or change direction,” an apt etymology that parallels my own path. I still don’t have a map, but a change in direction is something one can choose to embrace or to shun. Life is too short to snub change.
The day I got divorced was today.

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Filed under marriage, musings, relationships